COVID vaccination of 12-15 year olds: benefits vs risks

Should young teenagers have the COVID vaccine?

At present, this is a difficult question to give a straightforward answer.

For most of “middle to old age” people, the benefits of COVID vaccines are far greater than potential side effects from vaccines.

On the other hand, in case of 12-15 year olds, the benefits are marginally better than risks and individual circumstances need to be taken into account.

UK’s vaccine advisory body is called JCVI. ( Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation ).

JCVI on Friday declined to recommend universal vaccination of all 12-15 year olds. This is because the chances of children becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 is very small. This needs to be balanced against a tiny risk of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart in young people due to the vaccines. It is a matter of weighing up disease versus vaccine.

But, this does not mean COVID vaccines are not being given to 12-15 year olds.

USA, France, Italy, Israel and Ireland are offering vaccines to this group.

In U.K., vulnerable children with heart and lung problems, blood disorders, diabetes and various other diseases are eligible for the COVID vaccine. Children living with extremely vulnerable adults are also eligible.

Parents with healthy 12-15 year olds have a difficult choice to make in the coming weeks.

References

BMJ news. Covid-19: JCVI opts not to recommend universal vaccination of 12-15 year olds
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2180 (Published 03 September 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2180

BBC news. Covid: What do parents think about vaccinating children?
By Jennifer Meierhans & Kris Bramwell
BBC News

BBC news. Scientists not backing Covid jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds
By Philippa Roxby and Nick Triggle
BBC News

BBC news. Why vaccinating all teens is a difficult decision
By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter

Gov.U.K. Guidance
Coronavirus (COVID-19): antibody testing

Updated 22 August 2021

NHS. Antibody testing to check if you’ve had coronavirus (COVID-19)

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Do poor sleepers die early ?

Yes !

If someone feels they are not having regular refreshing sleep, then it is bad news.

In a very large U.K. study, involving 487,728 people, the following question was asked: Do you have trouble falling asleep at night or do you wake up in the middle of the night?

About a quarter of people in study answered “never/rarely”; just under half answered “sometimes” and less than one-third reported “usually”.

The people in study were followed up for many years (mean follow-up time = 8.9 years)

The people who reported frequent sleep disturbances (“usually” category) were found to be at risk of dying early.

The risk was highest in those with both diabetes and frequent sleep disturbances.

It needs to be seen whether the sleep disturbance by itself led to early death or whether people who are going to die early have medical problems that cause them to have disturbed sleep !

Sleep well. Don’t compromise sleep time !

References

Associations between sleep disturbances, diabetes and mortality in the UK Biobank cohort: A prospective population-based study
Malcolm von Schantz, Jason C. Ong, Kristen L. Knutson
First published: 08 June 2021
https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.13392

( UK Biobank study participants experiencing sleep disturbances: 24.2% “never/rarely” ; 47.8% “sometimes” and 28.0% “usually”)

BMJ Minerva. Cognitive decline . . . and other stories. BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1545 (Published 24 June 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1545

People who have trouble sleeping are at a higher risk of dying early – especially diabetics

NHS. Why lack of sleep is bad for your health

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Is drinking alcohol within guideline amount safe ?

No !

It would be a shock for many to hear that “No amount of alcohol is absolutely safe”.

A team at Imperial College London analysed MRI scans of heart, brain and liver of people who drink alcohol. They found that higher alcohol consumption was related to smaller brain, weaker heart and fatty liver.

They reported that “there is no ‘safe threshold’ below which there were no toxic effects of alcohol.

Previously other studies have also reported that there is no safe limit for alcohol!

In 2018, a Lancet study reported that the risk of death and risk of cancers increased substantially with increasing levels of alcohol consumption; and there was no safe limit below which there was no risk.

The message is “Avoid alcohol”

If you can’t, then atleast drink as little as possible.

References:

Alcohol consumption in the general population is associated with structural changes in multiple organ systems. Evangelos Evangelou, Hideaki Suzuki, Wenjia Bai, Raha Pazoki, He Gao, Paul M Matthews MD, PhD, Paul Elliott. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.65325

Does Drinking Within Low-Risk Guidelines Prevent Harm? Implications for High-Income Countries Using the International Model of Alcohol Harms and Policies
Adam Sherk et al. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2020 May

Lancet. GBD 2016 Alcohol Collaborators
Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016.
Lancet. 2018; (published online Aug 23.)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31310-2

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Low Carb diet for Diabetes: what is the scientific evidence?

Low Carb diet is often used for weight loss.

A recent “Study of Studies” published in BMJ shows that Low-Carb-diet is beneficial for diabetes control and remission.

The beneficial effects seem quite remarkable in the first six months but there is uncertainty about the long term effect.

Before you consider the Low-Carb-diet option, do discuss it with your doctor.

What replaces the Low-Carb-Diet is also important. Long term Low-Carb-Diet with animal protein seems to be bad for health.

Do consider plant based proteins instead .

References: Efficacy and safety of low and very low carbohydrate diets for type 2 diabetes remission: systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished randomized trial data.
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4743 (Published 13 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:m4743

Seidelmann SB, Claggett B, Cheng S, et al. Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis. Lancet Public Health2018;3:e419-28. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30135-X pmid:30122560

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are NOT in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Scientific evidence for a healthy diet and prevention of diabetes

Simple things in life can be the most difficult; For instance, Regular Exercise and a balanced Diet for a healthy life.

What constitutes a healthy diet is common knowledge. For example eating Whole grains, Fresh Fruit and Vegetables )

But what is accepted as common knowledge is not always backed up by robust scientific evidence .

So it is good to see two scientific papers in a recent issue of British Medical Journal with one paper exploring the role of fruit and vegetable consumption on type 2 diabetes and another paper exploring the role of whole grain foods on risk of type 2 diabetes.

1. One study found that Vitamin C and carotenoids have a protective effect against diabetes ( eg diet rich in citrus fruits, tomatoes , root vegetables such as carrots )

A word of caution to those rushing to buy vitamin supplements from the authors : “fruit and vegetable intake, rather than vitamin supplements, is potentially beneficial for the prevention of type 2 diabetes”.

2. Another study found that “whole grain foods, including whole grain breakfast cereal, oatmeal, dark bread, brown rice, added bran, and wheat germ, significantly reduced the risk of developing diabetes.

References

1. Association of plasma biomarkers of fruit and vegetable intake with incident type 2 diabetes: EPIC-InterAct case-cohort study in eight European countries.

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2194 (Published 08 July 2020)

2. Intake of whole grain foods and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective cohort studies .

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2206 (Published 08 July 2020)

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of publication and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is Honey a better treatment for coughs and colds ?

Possibly yes, in some cases of viral infections , according to a paper published a BMJ group journal ( BMJ Evidence Based Medicine) .

The paper has been widely quoted in various newspapers today.

The BMJ group journal authors report: “Honey was superior to usual care for the improvement of symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

It provides a widely available and cheap alternative to antibiotics…….but further high quality, placebo controlled trials are needed.”

A word of caution: Honey has high sugar content. Diabetics need to be careful. People will allergies need to take care. Of course bacterial infections need antibiotics particularly in old and vulnerable!

References

1. BMJ Evidence Based Medicine. Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis .

Abuelgasim H, Albury C, Lee J Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine Published Online First: 18 August 2020. doi: 10.1136/bmjebm-2020-111336.

2. Guardian Newspaper:

3. Daily Mail.

4. BBC paper review .

5. Evening Express

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of publication and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.